Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering and police Commander Chris O’Neill joined Biden and Pritzker for the private meeting in the Oval Office and on a terrace just outside the office.
Biden singled out Pritzker and Rotering for recognition early in his remarks on the South Lawn to belateldy celebrate the June passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which denies firearms to more domestic abusers, helps authorities remove weapons from people judged to be dangerous and toughens requirements for young people buying guns.
Biden signed the measure on June 25 just before heading to Europe. The White House event on a sunny, breezy day was meant to give politicians and community members affected by gun violence a chance to celebrate a long-sought gun control victory, but the Highland Park shooting of last week served as the latest reminder of the ongoing threat of mass shootings.
“I want to particularly thank the governor of Illinois and mayor of Highland Park for being here,” Biden said. “No, I mean it sincerely. We had a number of conversations immediately after the attack in Highland Park, and I’ve been impressed with the way they’ve handled things. It’s been extraordinary. And as the three of us have discussed, we have more to do.”
Biden also restated his call for a restoration of a federal ban on assault weapons.
Pritzker, in the interview with a handful of reporters outside the West Wing after the event, echoed that call, much as he did on Sunday during an appearance on CNN.
The new law “will make a difference,” the governor said. “But there is so much more to do. We need an assault weapons ban. We need a ban on high-capacity magazines. The president indicated he will be fighting for that as well. We’re grateful for that.”
Asked whether there was legitimate interest in going further than the new law, Pritzker said, “Are you kidding me? I think there is a lot of interest in getting more done. Whether or not they can bring enough Republicans along is a question. Whether or not you have to wait until after November when maybe there will be more pro-gun safety Democrats in the Senate and the House, that may be the case. But for many of us, the fight goes on.”
Rotering noted that it had been a decade since Highland Park prohibited assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.
“We know that the cities around us need that same right,” she said. “And it needs to be a national ban. These are combat weapons. The horror we saw on July Fourth should never be seen by a civilian, and it needs to end.”
O’Neill, dressed in his Highland Park police uniform, said the weapon used by the shooter “in a matter of seconds. . . just devastated our community.”
Among the other Chicago-area officials attending the White House event were Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown and First Deputy Superintendent Eric Carter.